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The Vital Role of Parents in Students' STEM Pursuits

An often overlooked force for good in the battle to increase students' pursuit of STEM subjects? Their parents. A recent study from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) revealed that targeting parents with information about the importance of STEM education in high school boosted enrollment of students in related courses.  Encouragement from parents is particularly important in the last two years of high school, when many advanced math and science courses are optional. The APS study showed that parental understanding of the impact of their children's high school course selections on their college -- and later, career -- paths resulted in more informed oversight of their students' course choices.  The study consisted of nothing more than a modest information campaign, targeting the same group of parents with brochures at two points in their children's high school career, suggesting that tapping parental influence is surprisingly easy.  “Although some people question whether parents wield any influence, we think of parents as an untapped resource,” said lead study author Judith Harackiewicz. “This study shows that it is possible to help parents help their teens make academic choices that will prepare them for the future.” See on

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